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V.3 #5 Counseling/School Psychology - Curriculum-Based Assessment

Empirical research has reinforced the notion that curriculum-based assessment (CBA) procedures result in positive effects on the academic achievement of students with special needs (Jones, Southern, & Brigham, 1998). Although there are different approaches to CBA, there appears to be some commonalities or general features that contribute substantially to instructional effectiveness associated with it.

What is CBA?

CBA should not be considered an informal procedure, as it is sometimes mistakenly understood. Some educators have defined CBA as focusing on a series of short-term instructional objectives (Madelaine & Wheldall, 1999). Nevertheless, most educators (Jones et al., 1998) agree that CBA is a systematic process of developing and implementing standards for:

  1. identifying academic difficulties directly from the classroom curriculum, rather than from a standardized achievement test.

  2. measuring frequent changes in these academic behavioral difficulties.

  3. presenting the results of testing.

  4. using the test data results to make instructional decisions.

CBA influences and enhances instruction in several ways:

  1. CBA focuses on the main question that pertains to instruction — what needs to be taught and how best to teach it. For example, in examining students' decoding skills in reading, a teacher can give a passage to the students that is derived directly from the classroom reading curriculum.

  2. individual students’ responses to instruction are monitored.

  3. the performance data is analyzed and used to make appropriate decisions; whether changes in the instruction are warranted or not, such as more emphasis on instruction in blending of sounds and segmentation. In other words, the teacher can examine the specific errors the children make with regard to phonological awareness.

The most probable cause for a student’s lack of academic success is due to the demands of the curriculum. Therefore, a curriculum evaluation is necessary in order to determine a student’s academic difficulties (Jones et al., 1998). Teachers who engage in the process of CBA need to: